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Great Expectations is considered to be one of Charles Dickens’s greatest works. Combining an early prototype detective novel plot with autobiographical references and detailed characterisation, Great Expectations is not only classic Dickens at his best, but also a compelling read, often mixing humour with sadness. As Shelley claims in his Defence of Poetry, “a poet considers the vices of his contemporaries as a temporary dress in which his creations must be arrayed, and which cover without concealing the eternal proportions of their beauty” (316).  Dickens not only covers the beauty with vice, he displays the ambiguity between the two, sometimes muffling one over the other until all seems the distant grey of the “ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty” streets of London (Dickens 187). However, Pip almost meets his nemesis in the evil, “slouchy” character of Orlick. Can Orlick be considered Pip’s unconscious? Click here to find out.

All material Copyleft t.c. van Veen, 2000

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, by Samuel Laurence. Chalk, 1838.